Rody sends Vietnamese fishers home
SUAL– President Duterte sent off the 17 Vietnamese fishermen caught poaching on Philippine territorial waters, home on November 2
SEND OFF. President Duterte talks with one of the 17 Vietnamese fishermen as he gives tokens to them prior to their departure late afternoon last November 2 in Sual town. Duterte led other officials in the ceremonial send-off of the Vietnamese nationals aboard three fishing vessels. The Vietnamese nationals were arrested off Ilocos Sur early September but were later cleared by the court of poaching and other illegal activities.CESAR RAMIREZ
After handing each of them their travel documents, they started to board their fishing vessels to sail towards Vietnam.
“I would like to send off our friends now,” Duterte said, amid clapping of the fishermen and officials of different government agencies who came to see the fishermen off.
Duterte said during his visit to Vietnam the last week of September, he promised Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang that he would expedite the return of the fishermen to their country.
“But there are recorded incidents and I told him to give me time, I can’t do it in a jiffy, Now, I am happy to send off my fellow human beings home,” he said.
He added that if the Vietnamese are again caught by typhoon while fishing in the high seas, they can go to Mindanao where they would be welcome.
“You can take your vacation there,” he said.
But the President could not help but take a dig at the Americans, saying the country won’t give them fuel if they have troubles in the sea.
“Pabayaan silang palutang lutang,” he said.
The Vietnamese fishermen violated laws of the country but for which they were subsequently cleared after President Duterte’s visit to Vietnam of the last week of September when he announced that the fishermen would be set free as a sign of the country’s goodwill.
On October 17, the Vietnamese Embassy wrote the Bureau of Immigration asking that they be allowed to board their vessels and provide all necessary supplies for their safe return to Vietnam.
The Philippine government granted the request. On October 10, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre issued a memorandum giving clearance for the fishermen to return to the country without being blacklisted nor subjected to any fine or penalty.
The send-off was held in Sual for practical and economic reasons as the fishermen and their vessels are already at the town’s port.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development provided them with food packs that contain rice, vegetables, noodles, canned goods,meat and others, that would last for up to ten days. They were also given blocks of ice to maintain freshness of the perishable food, bags containing toiletries and jackets.
Each of the three vessels’ fuel tanks was also filled with 1,000 liters of diesel.
The three fishing vessels were escorted by naval vessels up to 24 nautical miles from shore.
Vietnamese Ambassador Truong Triey Duong thanked Duterte for being “kind and generous” and for releasing the fishermen without hesitation and giving them necessary provisions.
Tran Minh Dung, a representative of the Vietnamese Embassy and who served as the fishermen’s translator, said they felt secure and safe during their stay in the country.
He said Vietnamese communities in the country provided them with food and other essentials.
Sual Mayor Roberto Arcinue said the fishermen were allowed to go down their vessels to buy water, food and toiletries.
“But they are already eager to go back to Vietnam where they have families,” Tran Minh Dung said.
The Vietnamese nationals were apprehended by the Philippine Navy on September 8 on board three fishing vessels in the Philippine territorial waters off Vigan City, Ilocos Sur.
They were charged with three violations. One is the violation of Republic Act 10654 or act to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,
The case was filed against 16 of the fishermen, except Do Thien Loi who was referred to the Provincial Social Welfare and Development to determine if he acted with discernment.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Field Office I likewise filed an administrative case against the fishermen for poaching on Philippine waters. The BFAR dismissed the case on October 21.
On October 7, the Provincial Prosecutor of Ilocos Sur dismissed the case against them, saying there was no intent on their part to violate RA 10654 “as they reached Philippine waters because of force of nature,” or strong winds wrought by storm Ferdie and habagat brought them to Philippine water.
The Bureau of Immigration likewise dismissed the deportation charges against the Vietnamese nationals on ground that there “is substantial reason to believe that they are in good faith and had no deliberate intention to violate Philippine laws, as well as immigration rules and regulations.
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